Ironically, although April has arrived, bringing along the term “April Showers,” California has already displayed the weather patterns of summer with sweltering afternoons rather than rain, still gradually recovering from drought. However, one question I wondered about was what brought this term April Showers?
The sterotypical belief of April is that “April Showers bring May Flowers,” implying that the rainy season has arrived and it is the perfect time to plant your flowers! But this saying actually originated since 1157 in a short poem titled, “A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry” by Thomas Tusser, which says,
“Sweet April showers
Do spring May flowers”
Incredibly, this phrase has been echoed throughout many centuries, even perpetuating modern society through the belief that April is the time to don rain boots, umbrellas and plant flowers to bloom in May!
And another question is: is this saying true? Although not entirely relevant to California, rain does have an effect on timing and abundance of flowering, said David W. Inouye, a biology professor at the University of Maryland, College Park. Inouye, who has studied bloom times in the Rocky Mountains, noted that some plants flower at the start of a rainy season and that some species might flower a second time in late summer after another good soaking. Therefore, this phrase may hold some merit after all; however, you might have to search for a wet season and the resulting May flowers elsewhere from California!
This was just my spontaneous thought of the day; I believed this phrase was fitting for the month, and the idea simply did “spring” on me! 🙂
As spring began its gradual transition to the swelter of summer, I decided to take a hike by myself on a mildly warm afternoon last Saturday. “Maybe it’ll clear my mind,” I thought.
And clear my mind it did. As I trudged on the Fremont Older trails, the sun gradually setting, the heat gradually settling, sweat gradually condensing and trickling down my face, I was shocked by the simple lack of anything typically revolving in my life. In fact, I had even sacrificed my precious phone for a more authentic experience, but I had never expected this true empty space, fortified from the bustle of outside life and faced only with the heat, the trail and my footsteps. No longer was I stressed with the thought that I had homework I had procrastinated on, tests I should study for, tasks I had forgotten. I simply allowed myself to relax, think and drift, grounded by only the steady pounding on the dusty trail.
And nature was my companion, my eyes filled with the occasional intriguing tree or greenery on the side of the dusty trail, scattered with some extremely fancy houses I often stopped to admire. In fact, I easily lost track of time, only roughly estimating time by the location of the sun in the sky and my measure of exhaustion as I continued to walk on. Yet I was strangely exhilarated, liberated, at peace through my walk, simply absorbing sights, sounds, and my thoughts – or often, lack of thoughts. I realized, this is what it’s like to put down your phone, listen to your breath and your steps, and just relax – providing a brief break from reality.
Although this hike was fun, I think I’ll drag my mom along next time; conversation and company would be a delightful bonus to my next adventure!
To experience my hike at Fremont Older (http://strollerhikes.com/location/fremont-older/), try the 3.8 mile Seven Springs Route (http://strollerhikes.com/hike/seven-springs-loop/) or the 2.4 mile Hunter’s Point Route (http://strollerhikes.com/hike/prospect-road-to-hunters-point/).
Although the current temperature in California hints at spring weather, I was still surprised to see tinges of green on some of the trees, especially as over a month of winter is still to be expected.
This led me to recall a recent biology lecture at school onto why and how plants produce oxygen through photosynthesis and why they are green, and it was fascinating for me to connect school knowledge to something I witnessed on the streets and hiking trails!
Here is a brief summary: Plants appear green because they can absorb and use all light except for green, which they reflect. These light particles, called photons, strike leaf pigments called chlorophyll. The photons breaks down water, releasing the oxygen that we need to survive, and energize electrons, which latch onto electron carriers and go through a series of chemical reactions. This creates an electrical gradient, ultimately leading to formation of high-energy molecules such as ATP. This leads to the Calvin Cycle, where enzymes along with electron carriers transform ATP into the much more stable form of energy: glucose. The plant can use the glucose for all the things we do – to grow, to metabolize – or we can tap that tree for sap such as maple syrup. This is a highly efficient process that makes use of our most plentiful energy resource — light.
This cool connection to my biology lecture allowed me to realize how amazing plants truly are – and how under appreciated they are. The next time I hike, I’ll be sure to admire these trees in all their beauty – and for all they do for us!
My family has always ran into an issue when ever we receive a new plant: they almost always die. Whether it’s too much water, too little water or not enough sunlight, one determining factor always seems to doom the plant to its inevitable wilting and death. However, I refused to give up and recently hoped to break this trend with one simple action: buying a mini cactus.
Luckily, I’ve been successful; it has been one month and the cactus is still growing and healthy! And I’ve discovered that its spikes are not actually painful but soft, almost like coarse fur. But what fascinated me the most was how it could go for many days without being watered and still be fine. So I did a little research…
Because a cactus has no leaves, it doesn’t give up its water through evaporation as easily as other plants. In fact, the prickly spines of cacti are actually highly-modified leaves, which reduce water loss by restricting air flow near the cactus. Its stems provide a lot of room and have a protective coating for storing water. Also, most cacti have extensive but shallow root systems that allow them to soak up any rainfall that may come their way. Some cactus species can even go for two years without water, and it’s useful to note that in an emergency in the desert, you can always cut open a cactus to find liquid.
Hope you enjoyed my spontaneous article and happy hiking!